We Tried Universal Hollywood's Super Nintendo World Restaurant. Here's What To Expect

Super Nintendo World debuted at Universal Studios Japan to great fanfare, and now it will finally arrive on American shores at Universal Studios Hollywood on February 17, 2023 (via Universal Studios Hollywood). If you're a Nintendo fan in the general vicinity of Los Angeles or making plans to visit the area, allot a day on your calendar.

It's well worth a double dash to the park to soak in the in-real-life experience of being in the visually stunning Mushroom Kingdom and all its eye-popping colors. Not to mention the soundtrack of familiar tunes that blasts throughout the area. You'll likely want to take in the thrill of Universal Studios' "Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge" ride. But, at some point, you've worked up an appetite and will want to eat. And that's when you head to Toadstool Cafe.

Toadstool Cafe presents a fast-casual Italian-influenced menu that comes from the mind of none other than Chef Toad. Though the food is a bit different than what's offered in Universal Studios Japan's Kinopio's Cafe, the majority of the savory dishes appropriately include mushrooms. However, all nod to the Super Mario franchise in some way, shape, or form. Chef Toad truly did not hold back on the whimsical elements. Every dish has adorable edible and non-edible garnishes to celebrate the park's theme. Do note that for now, the menu will stay the same from open to close, so don't expect to have options specific to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The theme and atmosphere

Naturally, you'll enter Super Nintendo World through a warp pipe. One-half of the familiar warp entry noise follows you through a disco-lit tunnel. Now, you are officially within the magical realm of the Mushroom Kingdom and will find yourself inside Princess Peach's Castle. Devoted players of "Super Mario 64" will immediately notice that the foyer has a cloudy blue sky on the ceiling and a sun-shaped floor design in a nod to the popular 1990s game. Video screens also feature a friendly "Bob-omb" greeting to keep you entertained.

On exit of Peach's Castle, an intense burst of music hits you, and from then on is a steady rotation of classic earworm Mario tunes. The visual landscape is lush with brightly colored cartoon confection.

If you weren't already enamored by the sights and sounds within the immersive landscape of Super Nintendo World, you're in for more as you wander into Toadstool Cafe. First, there's the aroma coming from the kitchen, and then your taste buds will be delighted.

Chef Toad is pulling double duty — not only cooking up your food but serving at the front of the house with an enthusiastic welcome message. Once you enter the dining room, you'll be wowed by wall-to-wall "Super Mario" decor. You can only describe it as a Nintendo cathedral, compelling your inward and upward gaze. A warp pipe drops from the ceiling. All the Power-Ups are on display, from standard Mushrooms to Lucky Bells and Turnips.

It's a' me, Mario's Bacon Cheeseburger

Line up, fellow Koopa Troopas. While there are several tasty options on Chef Toad's menu, for longtime fans of Nintendo, it's likely a knee-jerk reaction to order the Mario Burger — unless you're a Bowser fan, that is. And, if that's your pick, we're delighted to report that you're in for a happy meal that you'll want to run up the flag pole.

The Mario Burger features a 7-ounce beef patty and several slices of bacon alongside mushrooms (of course), fresh lettuce, and tomato. The burger is topped with American cheese and carefully sauced with a version of Thousand Island dressing. While the general ingredients may sound familiar to you, what sets the Mario Burger apart from the local burger competitors is the signature mustache printed in-house onto the fresh bun. Yes, you can keep the tiny hat souvenir that pins the burger together, and you can also preserve a memory of the experience by taking a photo of yourself eating the burger with the Mario mustache perfectly framed around your face. With a side of truffle fries — keeping within the mushroom theme — and a ketchup sauce on the side, you are getting your coins' worth.

The Luigi Pesto Chicken Burger is hauntingly good

In a Mario versus Luigi burger battle, we favor the younger brother this time and praise Luigi's special recipe. While the Mario Burger prominently features beef and bacon, the Luigi Burger's protein choice is chicken breast. 

Chef Toad dropped a fire flower of flavor on the chicken breast with irresistibly gooey melted Swiss cheese and a spread of fresh spinach. The chicken burger is sauced with a basil-based pesto that's made in-house. In addition, you'll find a thick slice of green bell pepper that gives the chicken burger an impressive swath of the signature verdant Luigi hue and adds a vegetal kick that you could associate with the character's athletic moves. In terms of aesthetics, the Luigi Burger's bun is the same that you would find on the Mario Burger, but each is emblazoned with mustache insignia printed in-house to match its individual namesake.

Joining the plate with the Luigi Burger are Chef Toad's signature truffle fries. In contrast to the Mario Burger, these truffle fries are served with the basil pesto sauce inside the Luigi Burger. If ketchup is more your speed, you can find plenty of packets within the restaurant to suit your taste and not have the brothers in competition.

Non-burger mains are certified Chain Chomp chow

If you're not in the mood for a burger, no problem. The other main options from Chef Toad are just as delicious and stay on the Nintendo theme. Chef Toad serves up a delectable short rib dish that, when viewed from above, looks just like the top of his head. We'll look past the self-nod because it's a delicious and particularly hearty course that's welcome on a long day of park adventures.

Fire Flower Spaghetti and Meatballs are a must-order for those who like heat in their dishes. The tomato-based sauce could be described as adjacent to the notoriously spicy type of pasta sauce known as arrabbiata marinara. If you're skittish around peppery dishes, be advised that Chef Toad took care to only use teensy amounts of potent fire flower to spare your taste buds from too much flame. Like every plate on the Toadstool Cafe menu, this dish provides a fun garnish. This time it's in the form of a prominent Parmesan crisp featuring a Fire Flower — depending on how much you like spice, this signage could serve as either a welcoming or a warning. If you are ready for the heat, we highly recommend pairing this dish with an appetizer of Toadstool Cheesy Garlic Knots.

The kid's menu is a Mario Party

For the parents out there who want their Baby Mario and Luigis to eat their vegetables, Chef Toad is here to offer up some support. Sure, a tasty cheeseburger topped with a victorious Mario figurine is sitting on the far corner of the plate. And, yes, there are tempting truffle fries as well. But right in front, you've got a nifty corn cob surrounded by broccoli topped with a Super Mario flagpole that might actually tempt your kiddos' taste buds.

Also offered on the kid's menu is a simple spaghetti dish in a marinara sauce that will please even the pickiest of eaters. It comes with the requisite garnishes in the form of a trio of printed Power-Up Parmesan crisps and a Toadstool Cheesy Garlic Knot.

In both kid's menu offerings, the dessert is hidden in a "? Box." What's inside that "? Box?" What an excellent question. The answer is a chocolate cookie encased in a thick, vibrant yellow fondant and molded to shape like a sought-after Super Mario coin.

Expect photo finish plating

Chef Toad didn't hold back with the plating flourishes with any dishes on the menu at Toadstool Cafe. But, certainly, concerted efforts were made on a few fronts to ensure that diners could snap a photo that would impress their friends from afar and inspire them to make the voyage to Super Nintendo World themselves.

The Piranha Plant Caprese Salad is a notably photogenic dish that's just as delicious as it is visually appealing and runs laps around the typical slapdash servings from theme park restaurants. The base of the dish is composed of thick slices of mozzarella and tomatoes drizzled with pesto. Those lead to an asparagus stem and basil leaves leading up to the piranha "flower," a fresh Roma tomato topped with mini mozzarella circular slices. It's also served with a mixed green salad dressed in an apple vinaigrette and topped with marinated mushrooms and crisp slices of radishes.

Chef Toad's Short Rib Special is a recommendation for solid upvotes on your social media. It's plated to look like the top of Chef Toad's head if you're viewing it from above. A soft pillow of polenta is topped with a braised short rib, sautéed mushrooms, and surrounded in a sauce artistically dolloped with mozzarella circles.

Chef Toad has considered any allergies

As with all theme parks that cater to a wide variety of guests, Chef Toad took extra care to ensure that nothing would set off an allergic reaction. As such, Chef's dishes are devoid of nuts and shellfish, and diners can rest assured that the restaurant is free of those particular allergens.

If gluten is of no concern, the carb-loaded kid's menu Power-Up Spaghetti Marinara or the Toadstool Cheesy Garlic Knots could be the winning ticket. But, currently, there are no completely gluten-free dishes. However, it's a work in progress. When the menu expands, it's a goal to add one or two options to the roster. For now, there is one item you can order that is at least low in gluten; however — give the Piranha Plant Caprese Salad a try. As far as desserts go, unfortunately, you do not have gluten-free possibilities. At present, the trio on offer is primarily flour-based cookies and cakes. 

Even the low carb options are stars

For those committing to a low carbohydrate or eating a keto diet and feeling a bit bummed that you aren't able to indulge in Toadstool Cafe's signature burger offerings, don't worry. Although you typically associate a chicken salad with being a bit boring, the Super Star Chicken Salad that Chef Toad has prepared brings plenty of playful spirits.

The Super Star Chicken Salad features grilled chicken breast atop a healthy mix of romaine lettuce and cabbage supplemented by grape tomatoes. It's all gently tossed in a peppercorn dressing and then drizzled with a bit of truffle oil. The resulting flavors and textures are somewhat reminiscent of a Caesar salad. The Super Star Chicken Salad's pièce de résistance featured garnish is made out of a Parmesan cracker that is a yellow five-pointed proverbial cherry on top.

To completely avoid carbs, you can just admire the star-shaped croutons made from garlic-infused brioche bread. Or indulge in one or two. It's a Mario Party, after all.

Vegetarian dishes fit for Yoshi and Birdo

Vegetarian Nintendo fans would wonder how Chef Toad could possibly exclude a favorite recipe courtesy of Yoshi. The adorable dinosaur pal of the Mario Brothers is notoriously ravenous for fruits and did not hold back when advocating some sweet ingredients to add to his preferred salad on the Toadstool Cafe menu.

Chef Toad took in Yoshi's culinary recommendations, and thus fruits are a primary feature of Yoshi's Favorite Salad. Beyond an ample sampling of blueberries, pineapple, and (keeping on the theme) star fruit, the salad is tossed in a raspberry vinaigrette. It's all topped off with three Yoshi "egg" croutons that have been seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The end result is delicious and will have Yoshi wagging his notoriously long tongue.

When the soup comes onto the Cafe Toadstool menu, the plan is for it to have a mushroom base that will be vegetarian-friendly. There's also hope for vegans out there with discussions to include tomato soup in the future.

The desserts could make even Bowser smile

When it comes to sweets, Chef Toad brings the goods. So well, in fact, that you might be left looking over your shoulder for the Boo Ghost coming to steal your snacks. The ingenious bakers at Toadstool Cafe must have gathered up some energy from Magikoopas to conjure up such a creative bounty of superpowered extra tasty pastries.

Starting with the "? Block" Tiramisu, which is filled with delicately spongy ladyfingers and then wrapped in square-shaped cookies — a classic tiramisu recipe. The result nails the look of the iconic yellow cube, and all of the cookies are baked in-house.

If a tiramisu offering wasn't enough of a nod to the Mario brothers' paisano roots, the Mt. Beanpole Cake is an Italian-inspired layer cake with slender slabs of chocolate, vanilla, and raspberry. A matcha green tea mousse provides a touch of Japanese influence in addition to a boost of color.

And last but not least, there is the Princess Peach Cupcake. Baked from a batter flavored with raspberry and colored by funfetti, the exterior frosting is designed to replicate her dress, with the top half being a lighter shade and the swirls on the side being a bit darker.

Beverages that'll refresh a Dry Bones

So you're at Super Nintendo World, and you're getting pretty thirsty. Instead of turning into a Dry Bones, you should make like a banana and slide over to Toadstool Cafe. There, you can opt for garden variety fountain soda, coffee, hot tea, milk, bottled water, apple juice, or orange juice, but why miss out on Toadstool Cafe's signature beverage?

The Super Star Lemon Squash is guaranteed to quench your thirst, especially on a hot day — not an uncommon occurrence in Southern California. The drink is somewhat akin to an Arnold Palmer with lemonade as a base but punched with a touch of honey sweetness. It also features a burst of boba bubbles hovering at the bottom of the cup, accompanied by a thick straw to make sure you don't miss a single one. It's then garnished with star fruit at the top.

Though it comes with an upcharge, Chef Toad is also happy to offer up a keepsake for you to take home and has generously provided mugs in his handsome visage. One comes in a Power-Up shade of red, and the other in a 1-Up green hue.

Tips for cutting down the wait time

To avoid waiting in line for your meal, a reservation system is in place. The park encourages using that, and we, too, recommend moving on it with the speed of a blue shell. Before you make the journey, make sure to download the Universal Studios app. You can reserve your food order and will be notified via text when you're in the queue. Once you're in the queue, head to Toadstool Cafe, and you'll shortly be escorted to a table. There is also a roped-off VIP space to accommodate large parties, so if you plan on going with a group, plan ahead.

Due to its hillside landscape, Universal Studios Hollywood has a unique layout. There's an upper section and a lower section, and Super Nintendo World is in the lower section, which is farther from the general parking structures. So, factor in some walking time between entering the entire theme park and arriving in Super Nintendo World. Unless you can jump as far as Mario, it's going to be a trip.

When it comes to Power Bands, they're a fun and interactive component of enjoying Super Nintendo World. But even if you're within the higher echelons of the top scores, be aware that a Power Band does not provide any special advantages when it comes to jumping ahead in line at Toadstool Cafe.